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The Steele Drum


September 2, 2009 10:54 AM

As the Donovan Turns


Upon further review, the Donovan McNabb-Michael Vick marriage isn’t headed for an early annulment after all. Not even a counseling session. That’s not to say you can afford to let your attention drift away from it, though.

For a couple of days, it seemed as if the biggest obstacle to Vick’s return would not be Roger Goodell, or PETA, or the vast reaches of the BWG (Bitter White Guy) Radio Network – but the very quarterback who supposedly had lobbied to bring Vick into the Philadelphia Eagles’ fold. McNabb clearly was not overjoyed with exactly how Vick was used in his comeback game against Jacksonville last week. However, he insisted Tuesday as he tried to “re-calibrate’’ his post-game comments, there was no rift between him and Vick and no objection to having him there.

Yes, McNabb said Tuesday, he did think the Eagles were “forcing’’ Vick in early in a preseason game he’d rather have spent getting the first-team offense in a rhythm. On the other hand, he added, he did know that this situation was a little out of the ordinary: normally, he “isn’t going to be coming in every second down.’’ As for the Wildcat – at least the version where McNabb is somewhere besides under center – “A lot of good things can happen in this.’’

This time, no mention of “gimmicks,’’ nothing further on the “throat-slash,’’ no elaboration on what the Eagles should and shouldn’t have done. Nothing to indicate that McNabb was any less secure than usual about his standing as the Eagles’ starting quarterback.

All it did, then, was add another chapter to the ongoing drama that has been McNabb’s career, which on odd days has you wondering why Eagles fans never cut him any slack whatsoever, and on even days wishing McNabb would stop doing things to stir those feelings up.

This mini-conflict was completely avoidable; McNabb only had to keep his sideline gestures a little more discreet, and taken a bigger-picture view of the Vick experiment afterward. At no time in his career has McNabb been less effective than when he has to explain something he’d said or done earlier, yet he puts himself in those situations time and time again.

This might not have risen to the level of explaining the final-drive heaving in the Super Bowl, or his bafflement with the overtime rules last season, or anything related to Terrell Owens. But it was typical McNabb, confusing rather than defusing. For a guy whose playing record and general handling of himself is a hair away from impeccable and unassailable, he ends up in these short-term-dustups way too often.

In reality, McNabb is probably no more threatened by Vick’s presence than any other future Hall of Fame quarterback on a usually-undeserved hot seat would be.

But if that little flicker of insecurity didn’t turn into a five-alarm blaze every once in a while, it just wouldn’t be McNabb, would it? Without it, Vick’s last preseason game Thursday against the Jets wouldn’t have that added voyeuristic element – all the eyes veering to McNabb on the sidelines every time Vick does anything spectacular.

Purely for the entertainment potential, Vick couldn’t have landed in a better place. He hasn’t been around three weeks, but from that aspect he’s already paid off.

(Photo: Associated Press)

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